Difference between FreeBSD and PC-BSD

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Difference between FreeBSD and PC-BSD

Postby washtafel » 05 Apr 2012, 09:59

Hello guys, this is my first post here, since I don't know where to post this, so I post it in general.

My question is: what is the difference between [del]freebsd[/del] FreeBSD and [del]pcbsd[/del] PC-BSD? To put it simply, is [del]pcbsd[/del] PC-BSD a [del]freebsd[/del] FreeBSD with gnome/kde configured?

Thanks in advance.
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Postby SirDice » 05 Apr 2012, 10:11

PC-BSD is a pre-configured, pre-compiled FreeBSD with a lot of customizations thrown in.
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Postby jrd1 » 08 Apr 2012, 07:08

To elaborate on what SirDice said, the difference between the two is that of
tweaks and configurations.


PC-BSD has configurations for on-the-fly USB mounting and a lot of background scripts to make the overall functionality more user-friendly.

Example: in FreeBSD, you can either download the binary of a program via the [file]pkg_add[/file] command and install it. However, since such binaries are compiled to be as compatable as possible for a specific architecture (e.g. i686), it can function either slower or faster on your machine - depending on its parts and configuration. For most users, this is not a concern. However, the recommended approach to program installation in FreeBSD is via building the package from the "[file]/usr/ports[/file]" repository. That way, you are more or less guaranteed the maximum performance of that custom compiled package on your machine. However, to the average user, this is not of paramount importance.

PC-BSD takes a different approach to this, and it is here where FreeBSD and PCBSD diverge. If you use Windows you are familiar with the double-click on an exe file, install and voila - you have an installed and working program. PC-BSD has a similar concept called a PBI, where you can double-click and an installer pops up and you continue much as you would in Windows. Any software installed using PBIs are installed in a separate directory "[file]/Programs[/file]". Contrast this to FreeBSD where the software - downloaded / compiled and installed - are usually stored in "[file]/usr[/file]" (as in most Unix-like systems). And, since PC-BSD is also FreeBSD, you can also: 1) compile and install using ports; and 2) download and install using [file]pkg_add[/file].

In summary, IMO technologically, the difference between the two is one of a matter of design philosophy: PC-BSD focuses on the desktop and the average user by making it easy to use the system with a number of tweaks (outlined above), while FreeBSD focuses (arguably) on the server by ensuring stability, security and through a design and promotion of its ports system, maximum performance.

Note, because PC-BSD is inherently FreeBSD at the core, it has all the benefits of FreeBSD open to it. However, IMO the implementation of the PC-BSD system, somewhat forgoes that philosophy, but makes for an easy to use system, and one that a regular user can use without any qualms. FreeBSD, on the other hand, IMO does require some work. But, the beauty of the FreeBSD option is that by proxy you learn a whole lot more about the system and Unix on the whole. And that, to me, is awesome.
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Postby adripillo » 09 Apr 2012, 12:48

I am not so sure but I think that PC-BSD also has the option to install programs using ports.
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Postby fonz » 09 Apr 2012, 12:52

adripillo wrote:I am not so sure but i think that PC-BSD also has the option to install programs using Ports.

Yes, it does.
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Postby vdubgeek » 18 Apr 2012, 02:31

I'm new to FreeBSD, only using it now for about a month. I did dabble briefly with PC-BSD, and in my experience I found that as soon as I started installing with ports on PC-BSD, I started getting conflicting dependencies. Being new to *BSD, I wasn't completely sure how to resolve the issues and in the end found it a bit confusing.

After a week or so, I made the switch to pure FreeBSD, and haven't had any issues and have been using ports extensively without any issues. Personally, I would skip PC-BSD and go straight to FreeBSD, but that's only my opinion. Obviously, your "mileage may vary"
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Postby fluca1978 » 18 Apr 2012, 10:15

vdubgeek wrote:I'm new to FreeBSD, only using it now for about a month. I did dabble briefly with PC-BSD, and in my experience I found that as soon as I started installing with ports on PC-BSD, I started getting conflicting dependencies. Being new to BSD, I wasn't completely sure how to resolve the issues and in the end found it a bit confusing.

After a week or so, I made the switch to pure FreeBSD, and haven't had any issues and have been using Ports extensively without any issues. Personally, I would skip PC-BSD and go straight to FreeBSD, but thats only my opinion. Obviously, your "mileage may vary"


PCBSD PBI system should not get ports conflict, so I suspect something different was going there (and it is better to report it on the PCBSD forums). As already pointed out, PCBSD comes pre-configured, and if we exclude some toys (not meant to be offensive) like PBI, the ports jail, the warden, the difference between PCBSD and FreeBSD tends to zero. Consider that, with the only exception of PBI, starting from a FreeBSD plain system you can reach the same configuration of a out-of-the-box PCBSD.
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Postby funky » 18 Apr 2012, 10:51

vdubgeek wrote:I'm new to FreeBSD, only using it now for about a month. I did dabble briefly with PC-BSD, and in my experience I found that as soon as I started installing with ports on PC-BSD, I started getting conflicting dependencies. Being new to BSD, I wasn't completely sure how to resolve the issues and in the end found it a bit confusing.

This matter is discussed here: http://forums.pcbsd.org/showthread.php?t=16637 and the short answer is: This will be solved in the near future with PC-BSD 9.1.
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Postby vdubgeek » 18 Apr 2012, 13:14

funky wrote:This matter is discussed here: http://forums.pcbsd.org/showthread.php?t=16637 and the short answer is: This will be solved in the near future with PC-BSD 9.1.


This is good to know. Thanks for the update
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Postby bbzz » 18 Apr 2012, 14:14

If you want to learn about OS, don't go for PC-BSD, it really doesn't do anything except give you preinstalled GUI and preconfigured files. PBIs don't cut it themselves.

If you just want it to work out of box and don't care what's under the hood, might as well go with linux, you'll have easier time.
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Postby UNIXgod » 18 Apr 2012, 19:08

bbzz wrote:If you want to learn about OS, don't go for PC-BSD, it really doesn't do anything except give you preinstalled GUI and preconfigured files. PBIs don't cut it themselves.

If you just want it to work out of box and don't care what's under the hood, might as well go with linux, you'll have easier time.


I went through a pc-BSD install recently just to see it as I never really had a chance to look at it. It simplifies some tasks on install such as zfs on root, encryption for root and the whole file system and swap including boot password. User home directory encryption as well.

I like that it offers FreeBSD as an option and doesn't force you into a single desktop. The live part is nice for testing graphics cards but an option to go into a non graphical install would be nice as well.

I do believe that running FreeBSD to learn about unix, programming and networking is important. I see PC-BSD as an option (at least in the future) to suggest to friends and family members who have different needs when it comes down to their interest and computing skills. One thing it does do is provide another alternative to ubuntu/mint which I'm sure our debian counterparts suggest to people on their forums for new users.
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Postby mharvey87 » 18 Apr 2012, 22:09

PC-BSD is for desktop usage and ease of use, FreeBSD is for server, developement, and/or research. Thats the difference
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